Tuesday 16 April 2024

Hooded Mergansers


    Hooded Mergansers are interesting looking ducks.  That’s the male with the bold white stripe across the head and the distinguished colored pattern on his body.  The female on the right, is not as brilliantly colored as her mate, but she does sport a punk haircut.  This pair of ducks return to my pond every year.      

    Hooded Mergansers are tree nesters.  Around my pond, I have a handful of nesting boxes attached to trees, about 10 feet (3 meters) off of the ground, and the female uses the boxes to hatch her brood.  Below is a photo I took of a female, just coming out of her nesting box, taking a break from sitting on the eggs in order to go get some food on the pond and get some exercise.



You can view my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca

 

Saturday 13 April 2024

The First Trip To The Ozalenka Alpine


        Today, the Ozalenka Alpine is a highly regarded and popular hiking destination in the Robson Valley, but back in 1989, it was unknown.  I was along on that first group hike up to the Ozalenka and below is how the hike went for me.  I probably have some photos from that first hike hiding away somewhere, but the photos you see here are from later treks to the Ozalenka.


On Sunday, September 3rd there was a group hike planned up into the newly named Ozalenka Alpine.  Ozalenka supposedly meant “grizzly bear” in some indigenous language.  Very few local people had ever been up into the Ozalenka.  The area had been “discovered” by Glen Stanley, a local hiking and climbing enthusiast, and his descriptions of the place, peaked the curiosity of some of us other local hikers.  Glen volunteered to lead an expedition for us interested trekkers, up to the Ozalenka, and set the date for the hike.

         I was very eager to see the Ozalenka and so got up at 6:00 the morning of the hike, because I had planned to bike to the gathering point, so my wife could have use of the car during the day, but then I discovered that my neighbor Kjell was also going on the hike, so I was able to wait around at his house until 7:30 and go along with him. 

    There were twelve of us that met up at the trail head to do the hike.  Lanky, mountain goat, Glen led us into the bush along one of the tributaries of the Dore River.  Almost immediately after starting off we encountered, and had to ford a wide creek.  Everyone else had brought some runners along to wear fording the creek, but I was unaware of crossing a major creek, and was wearing my good leather hikers, so I took off my boots, hung them around my neck, and crossed the creek bare-footed.  The water was shockingly cold, almost stinging my bare feet.  

    It took hours to make the slow, unrelenting, climb up to the alpine following a steep creek.  We had to cross the creek multiple times, balancing on logs.  Once we got above the tree line, an extensive alpine area opened up to us.  It cradled three small lakes.   After some initial explorations roaming through the lush rolling flowered alpine, some of us seeking a new vista, climbed to the top of a very long narrow ridge that overlooked the next valley. Spectacular!   

    We saw a few caribou and heard wolves.  It was a wonderful and enchanting experience.

    My feet began to hurt even before starting back down the trail, and as I descended, the pain got intensified.  I always found that going downhill was more painful than climbing, because my long toes always jammed up against the toe of the boot.

    It was already dark by the time I got back down to that first big creek, and I discovered that while we had gone, the creek’s flow and it’s depth had increased a lot, due to all of the alpine snow melt that had occurred during the day.  I was totally exhausted, and upon entering the creek’s frigid water and crossing, I slipped on one of the underwater rocks, falling, and drenching myself.

        Once I had struggled to the bank of the creek, I just lay there for a while exhausted, until I could work up enough energy to get back on my feet and walk to the trucks.  I didn’t get home until 9:00.


 

View my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca

Friday 12 April 2024

Fire Patrol & A Spot Fire


             Charlie Leake, (Above) a retired long-time McBride resident who had flown jets in the Canadian Forces, was a local aviator.  Often during the summer, he was hired by the Forest Service to fly his private plane on “Fire Patrol”.  

    During the summer of 1989, the Robson Valley Forest District experienced a high fire hazard, and Charlie was contracted to fly his small plane along a designated route, criss-crossing over our Forest District to spot any smoke from forest fires.  His route took him over mountains, river drainages, the valley bottom, isolated lakes and glaciers, and included Mt. Robson Provincial Park; some of the most dramatic and beautiful pristine mountain scenery in the world.  

    On his patrol flights, Charlie always needed a passenger to also act as an observer, as he piloted the plane.  The observer job required someone with a strong stomach, because Charlie’s small plane often encountered turbulent weather that buffeted the aircraft around. 

        In 1989, it was my wife that was hired as Charlie’s observer, and she spent many a summer’s day high above the Robson Valley looking for forest fire smoke.   While I envied her views of the scenery, I didn’t envy her the bumps and rolls of the small plane that sometimes had to be endured.  During times of extreme fire hazards, Charlie’s patrol plane had to sometime flight twice a day.

    On one of those days of two flights, my wife had spotted and reported two small spot fires early in the morning.  Back at our Forestry Office, a three-man crew of firefighters were dispatched to the fire at 10:00 AM.  They had a long rough hike into the fire, and weren’t able to start fighting it until 4:00.

        They radioed into the office reporting that they figured they would have the fire extinguished by 7:30.  Facing another 5 hours to trek out, it meant that they would have ended up hiking in the dark, so it was decided to drop some camping equipment and food in to them so they could overnight.   

        I was on Forestry warehouse standby that day and, just when my wife got home from her fire observer job, and as I was about to ask her about her day, I was called in to the warehouse to get the camping gear together and take it to a helicopter which would dropped it off to them.  (The rough terrain they were in prevented the helicopter from making a landing.)

          After getting the camping equipment out, I had to continue working in the warehouse until 9:00.  It was another long day during fire season.

        I thought it was interesting that both my wife and I contributed, in our different roles, to getting that spot fire extinguished.


View my paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca 



 

Wednesday 10 April 2024

Cartoon Hits The Mark

    Above is the cartoon that I submitted to our local newspaper last week.  It should appear in this week’s paper.  When I submitted it, I didn’t realize just how relevant it would be to my life. 

    I find getting everything organized for the income tax to be a hateful job.  Although I feel I am conscientious about saving all of those income tax related papers throughout the year, it always seems that some important piece of information ends up missing.

    This year I felt I had all of the ducks in a row, as far as my income tax documents.  I grouped and paper-clipped all of the  papers related to each section of the tax and then submitted the big envelope full of the information to the local woman who figures out our taxes.  It is always such a relief to turn that envelope over to the accountant and be done with it.

    However, this year that relief was short-lived.  The accountant called me a few hours later to tell me that I was missing the all important T4A (Old Age Security) and the T4A (Pension) documents.  Both are sent by the government.  Since I didn’t have them, somehow they must have been mislaid or lost.  Immediately, after hearing the news, I was thrown into a panic/depression.  

    Our income tax is due at the end of April and I was pretty pessimistic that I could get new copies of the two documents before that.  I called Revenue Canada on the phone in an attempt to get them to send me the new copies, and after 40 minutes of hanging on the line listening to bad muzak, I actually got to talk to a real person, who was very friendly, and promised to mail them out to me right away.  

    Again that feeling of relief returned to me.  Now I hope they quickly arrive to the post office in our isolated little village.


You can view my paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca


 

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Anyone Find A Hundred Dollar Bill?


     You know what they say about a fool and his money, well, I guess I qualify at being a fool.  

    Do you remember a week ago when I blogged about selling a guitar amplifier?  I had posted it on Pete’s List for $100, and it was quickly sold.  I delivered it to the buyer who lives just down the road, and he handed me a folded $100 bill in payment.  I didn’t have my billfold with me, so I just stuck it into my pocket. which already had a handkerchief in it.  

    After talking a bit to the amp’s new owner about amps, and electric guitars, I thanked him, got into the car, and drove home.  Later in the day, I thought about the hundred and reached into my pocket to retrieve it.  Sadly, there was nothing to retrieve, the bill was gone.  Sometimes earlier I must have reached for my handkerchief and pulled it out.  I assume with that action, I also unknowingly pulled out the hundred too, and it disappeared into the Cosmos.

    I emailed the amp buyer, and he and his wife searched their yard.  In the meantime, I searched the car and all of the places I had been after returning home, to no avail, the hundred dollar bill was not to be found.  

    I can certainly live without the money, but loosing it does make me feel like a fool.


View my paintings at;  davidmarchant2.ca

Monday 8 April 2024

North American Eclipse Day


    Today there will be a total eclipse of the sun that will travel across a strip of North America from Mexico, through the US, and then a section of Maritime Canada.  As is usual, whenever such an event happens, it is hyped up until everyone is sick of hearing about it.  At this point, I guess I should apologize, because I am going to add to all of the hoopla by telling of our eclipse experience.

    Back in 1991, I read that there was going to be a total eclipse in Hawaii.  I hadn’t been in that tropical paradise, that had made such an impression on me, since my Peace Corp training in 1969.  Coupling  that with the fact that we had family in Hawaii (my wife’s brother and his wife), all seem to be good reasons to travel to the islands to see the eclipse.

    We booked our flight, contacted our relatives, and some old friends we had made in McBride, who had moved to the Big Island and arranged a visit.   The Big Island of Hawaii was one of the best places to see the eclipse in totality.  

    It was wonderful to go to Hawaii again, but shocking to see how much development had occurred in the 20 years of my absence.  We stayed with our friends Richard and Diane who lived in Kona, on the dry side of the island, and Richard figured that he knew just the spot to watch the eclipse.

    The eclipse was to occur early in the morning, which was a bit of a disappointment, since it wouldn’t be quite as dramatic as it would have been if it happened midday.  We got up in the early dark of the morning, and Richard drove us to the spot to watch the eclipse.  When the morning started breaking, we were dismayed to see the overcast sky, with thick clouds.  It was not something we expected on the dry side of the island.

    The morning brightened up, but the clouds remained.  What a disappointment.  Then the sky began to darken, as the moon moved in front of the sun, hidden behind those damn clouds.  

    Fortunately as the eclipse moved toward totality, there was a break in the clouds, and we did get to see the eclipse, just the ring around the edge of the moon. (Photo above)

    As it turned out, we were extremely lucky because many people who, like us, had traveled to Hawaii to experience the eclipse, were rained out, unable to see anything of the astronomical event.

    I was surprised at how the eclipse happened.  I thought the moon would move sideways across the sun, but it moved from the top of the sun to the bottom.  After witnessing the eclipse we thought about how neat it would be to travel to other places to watch future eclipses, but that never happened.   

   Today’s eclipse will be total in Dallas, where my brother and his family live, and also in Evansville, Indiana, my sister’s home and my home town.  I hope everyone in those places have a cloud-free day.

    Below is a photo I took after our Hawaiian eclipse had happened.  You can see all the myriad of people who lined the highway to witness the event.

    


View my paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca

 

Sunday 7 April 2024

Two Strange Things From My Childhood


    I had a wonderful childhood growing up in rural, agricultural, and wooded Southern Indiana, but thinking back on it, I remember a couple of things that I now find very strange.  

    One concerned dragonflies.  As a very young kid I hung around with the local kids who were just a bit older.  They of course were a source of much knowledge for me, a lot of which was bunk.  One thing they told me was that dragonflies were called “Snake Doctors”  because when a snake was sick or injured, a dragonfly would find it and cure its injuries,much like a doctor, thus the name.  I accepted that as fact for a long time during my early childhood.  I have always wondered how and where such “information” originated from.

    The other strange thing I remember from childhood was a habit of my Uncle Bill, who all of us kids idolized for being “cool”.   Bill, or “Bud” as he was known, was always chewing gum, and would often offer some to us kids.  The strange habit our Uncle Bill had was that when he got tired of chewing the gum, he would take it out of his mouth and stick it on the back of his ear.  There it would stick until he wanted to chew the gum again, and then he would remove it from the back of his ear, put it back into his mouth, and start chewing it again. 

    Of course, us kids would follow his lead, and do the same thing with our chewing gum.


You can see my paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca


 

Saturday 6 April 2024

Shooting Toward The Sun


    During that “Photogenic” day we had just after the overnight snowfall, I was walking by the spruce tree toward the shop.  As I walked I glanced up at the sun which had just come over the mountains.  As it’s light shown through the spruce boughs I thought it made a magical scene, so I hurried back into the house and got my camera to take this shot.  

    While shooting into the sun can cause some problems, it can also result in some really special photos.


Take a look at my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca


 

Friday 5 April 2024

Always On The Lookout For Birch



    When we moved to McBride and then became dependent upon our wood stove to heat our house during the winter, it didn’t take me long to recognize that even though there were many types of trees in the Robson Valley, birch made the best firewood.  It was easily split, and it was easy to light (even “green” Birch would burn, although it gave off a lot of creosote).  Birch firewood burned slowly and hot.  

    When I began working for the Forest Service and often had to drive out into the bush on logging roads, if I came upon a birch tree that had blown down or had been logged and left, I always made a mental note of where it was, so that when I began to collect firewood, I would return to it.  Of course, I wasn’t the only one in the valley that was doing that, and often when I returned to cut it up, someone had beaten me too it.

    Valuing birch firewood has stayed with me, and a month or so ago, when I noticed that a BC Hydro (our electricity provider) crew had cut down trees that could interfere with their power lines, they cut down a birch tree, and knowing its value as firewood, bucked it up into pieces, for whoever came to get it.  I watched those pieces of birch sitting there for months, and no one came to get them, so I decided to.

    When got to the site the other day, I realized why;  it was a lot of work.  The pieces were about 60 (20m) feet from the road, which meant that they had to carry each of the heavy chunks of wood all that way, including up a very short, but steep bank.   Not many people would do that much work for firewood, however it’s not the first time I have done it.  I lugged the pieces up to my truck, working up a sweat in the drizzle, then throwing them into the truck to bring home for unloading.

    I stacked the pieces in front of my shop, and then, next day after the snow melted, I split them, carted them to the woodpile, and stacked them so they could dry over the summer.   I probably already had enough firewood for the winter, but I never like to pass up a chance to get some more, and this firewood was easier because it was already cut up. 

    Henry David Thoreau once said that firewood warms you twice, once when you split (or get) it, and then again when you burn it.

  


View my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca

Thursday 4 April 2024

Reflected Light


    Here are a couple of photos I took yesterday morning, both showing reflected light .  I really liked seeing the bright snow on the mountaintops reflected in our picture windows.  In the picture below, it was the rippling water of the pond that was doing the reflecting, catching the light of the sun on the clouds, before the sun made its way over the mountains.



You can look at my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca

 

Wednesday 3 April 2024

A Photogenic Mornng


    On some days there is not a photo worth taking, no matter how hard you look.  On other days there are photo-worthy views in every direction.  This morning I woke up to one of those photogenic days.

    As you can see, we got some snow overnight, and the morning sun was hitting the mountains head on.  Our property was still in the blue shadows.  The pond was reflecting nicely, and you can even see a pair of Mallards making ripples on the pond.

    As Kona and I walked around the pond, I was digging out my camera to take photos constantly.  I ended up taking 17 shots.  I’ll probably be showing you some of the others in future blogs.


View my paintings at:  davidmarchant2.ca



 

Tuesday 2 April 2024

Pete's List and Closet Musicians



    Just about every day I get an email from “Pete’s List”.   Pete is a local guy from Dunster who set up this email so that local residents of the Robson Valley can post what they want to sell, what they are looking for, or notices of what events are happening in the area.

    Pete’s List has a good following, and so I use it whenever I need to reach the public.  Above is the message I put on Pete’s List this morning.  

    I have been striving to get rid of a lot of things that I no longer use.  These two guitar amps have been sitting in my shop for years, and figured it was time to sell them.  Whenever I post anything on Pete’s List, I am always surprised at how quickly they sell.  

    The Robson Valley has a sparse and small population, so I am usually not very optimistic about the market for the things I am trying to sell.  Earlier on, when I listed my 12-string guitar, I was thinking;  “Is there anyone out there that wants to buy a 12-string?”  but obviously there were a lot of locals looking for one, because my email box quickly got numerous requests.

    The same thing happened when I posted the message selling the amps this morning.  The first request came in at 5:54 AM, and both amps sold by 7:30 AM.  This brings me to my second topic of the day:  Closet musicians. 

    I am always surprised to find out how many local people play instruments privately.  Whenever I hear about them, I tell them about our jam, but most of them are just too shy to play around other people.  There is one guy that comes to our jam every week “just to listen”, who I found out has and plays a guitar, and I often urge him to bring it and play.

     I have explained that when we are playing, nobody will hear him playing, because everyone is too concentrated on what they are playing.  It’s really too bad that people are so shy, because some of the most fun I have had in my life has been playing music with others, and it is a wonderful way to pick up tips, and learn more.

    Below is a jam poster I made trying to get closet musicians to come to the jam. 


View my paintings:  davidmarchant2.ca

Monday 1 April 2024

My Old GMC Pickup


    Back in 1987 my neighbor Kjell went up to the BC Government Auction at Prince George, and bought a ten year old GMC, 4 x 4, Forest Service pickup truck.  Kjell figured it would be just the thing for driving back the rough logging roads so he could hike or ski.  Being a generous fellow and good neighbor, Kjell  told me I was welcome to borrow the truck whenever I needed it.  As it turned out, I ended up needing it a lot.

    I had a growing herd of Angora Goats, and every summer I had to fill up my barn with bales of hay for the goats to eat during the winter.  So every year during haying season, I would borrow the truck and use it to make several trips back and forth from neighboring farms, hauling as many bales of hay as it could carry, stacked high in its box.    

    During those years I was also in the process of building a big addition onto our house, so I was constantly borrowing the truck to haul building supplies (lumber, dry wall, plywood, etc).  And let’s not forget all the firewood that I needed find and cut up, down rough logging roads and haul back to the house, so you can see, I was using Kjell’s truck, a lot.

    I did of course always fill it back up with gas, and one year, I even paid for the insurance for the truck.  Gradually it happened that I began using the truck more than Kjell. 

    One day, he approached me and said, “Dave, since you use the truck so much, why don’t you just buy it from me, and I will borrow it from you.”  I was happy to oblige, and the truck became mine.  

    Not only did the old 4 x 4 k become a much used workhorse for me, but also the subject for five of my paintings.  Below is the first painting I did of it, that remains one of my favorites.



    You can view my other paintings of the truck at:  davidmarchant2.ca